Spiritual Cataract Surgery: Re-writing My Story

 

Sometimes it’s like a veil is pulled back and I see things differently. Those are wonderful Epiphany Moments. What have they been like for you? Those moments when you see yourself, or a situation, or the world differently.

I was lying in bed last week in a small cabin in the woods. I’d told a group of people some of my story, a tiny bit of my sad childhood when I felt so alone in the world. Later that night, tucked into my cabin the Spirit gently and graciously pulled back the curtain and showed me a totally different view of my childhood. I was never alone. There was never a moment I was on my own or unloved. There was never an instant in which I was neglected. I was always cherished. Always.

Last week in my blog I shared my increasing awareness that we are one with God. Growing out of that awareness, I was able to grasp on an emotional level that I have never been alone. I am God’s child, one with God. I came from God and will return when I leave this world. There is a huge difference between intellectual understanding and emotional knowing. Epiphany Moments are about emotional knowing. They are life changing.

From that moment in my cabin I have re-written my childhood story. Yes, I may tell of some of the experiential emptiness, but it is no longer the whole story. Nor do I tell the story from that emotional standpoint. I’m so deeply grateful to our wonderful, loving God who graces me with moments of clarity. I no longer see my life through shadowy eyes. Hmmmm ….  Is this a spiritual cataract moment?

And what is true for me, I know is true for you …. You are God’s beloved child too. Always loved. Always.

When have you had such a moment? A time when you had a paradigm shift? Your eyes were opened, even for a flickering moment and you KNEW something. Everything changed and came together in a whole new way.

I’d love to hear your stories.

Love and prayers

Anne

Mystic in Motion

Companion on the Way” with Contemplative Fire

Contemplative Fire Canada, Founder

 

Christmas Greetings

Today we celebrate the special gift of God to us here on earth in the arrival of Jesus. Welcome Jesus!

There was a day, a time, when he entered the world. Just like you and I did. He was born of his mother Mary. He knew life in her womb, the entry into this cold world. He knew separation from her, cold and hunger just as we all have known. One difference from us is that during his time on earth, he didn’t loose his awareness, his connection to God. He remained in contact with God, allowing the full presence of God’s Spirit to flow through him so we might know what God is like and know too, what humans can be like when they live in the fullness of their divine life.

He came to make us whole. That’s what the word ‘saved’ means. It means health and wholeness. That’s what he came to bring to us. Jesus gives to us the awareness of what humans are able to be, fully alive, fully connected to God. Being in touch with him, brings healing, health and wholeness into our lives. It’s not about a correct doctrine, or a specific spiritual experience. It is about being open to the Spirit of Jesus Christ today, now and always. He can still touch us, just like he touched lepers when he was physically alive. Sometimes his healing is physical, sometimes emotional and most often spiritual. Healing is his business.

Today we celebrate that God came to earth in the life of Jesus Christ. I’m grateful for that. The life of Jesus has allowed me to see God in a completely different way – not removed, distant and judgmental, but close, caring and compassionate. God lives within me, within you and all of creation. The death of Jesus remains for me a sorrow touched with mystery. His resurrection assures me that he is still alive and powerful. I have experienced his presence many times, in many places and people.

Over the years I have recognized how much the external energy and trappings of Christmas have fed my seasonal feelings. Today I don’t have the parish life that gives me services to prepare. We’ve opted in our family not to give presents to each other but to gather to feast and enjoy one another. That has eliminated much of busyness of the season! It feels rather strange… yet I experience more clearly the birth of Jesus. Today is about him. I’m so grateful for his life.

May the peace and joy of Jesus be yours.

Love and prayers

Anne

Mystic in Motion

‘Companion on the Way’ with Contemplative Fire

Contemplative Fire Canada (Founder)

Holy Waiting: Standing in The Light

 

We’ve passed December 21, the mark of the shortest day in our year. We don’t see it yet, but already we are tipping towards the light. Begin your reflection time by lighting four candles, yes four, and as you light each one, do it slowly and gently, pausing as you go: the Candle of Presence, the Candle of Your Light, the Candle of Hope. The fourth candle I name as Love. Let us sit in its presence for awhile.

Jesus’s clearest word to us, by both his life and his teaching, is that we are to love one another. We’re to love those close to us and those who are strangers, those people we naturally care about and those who are different from us, even those we brand as enemies. He challenges us to love beyond what is comfortable and warm, but to draw a wide circle, an inclusive circle, one that embraces all human beings. His circle was so wide that his dying breath was one of forgiveness to those who hurt him. As he used so many nature illustrations to teach us about God and ourselves, I’m very comfortable in extending his circle of care to all life on our planet, to our earth, galaxy and universe. We are to be Love.

I read a bit of Karen Armstrong this fall. This religious historian’s perspective is that you can discern a spiritual truth by whether it calls you to practical compassion. For all faiths, that is their bottom line. So…. as I sit with the Candle of Love, am I open to another being? Am I open to helping, to being helpful to another, to creation?…… In that I recognize my gross imperfections. There are many times when I’m not open. Perhaps I’m not comfortable with someone, their sufferings or their opinions. Or perhaps I’m not ready to change my lifestyle despite the harm it brings to the air I breathe or sea that feeds me. I begin by sitting in the presence of Love and allowing myself, warts and all to be loved.

Jesus is the Light of the World, a light no darkness can extinguish. I invite you to sit in his presence. At Christmas we remember how one day, he entered our world. Two thousand plus years later, at Christmas we are invited to know that his Spirit Light is within us, and now we are to enter the world bearing his care, his compassion and his love to a hurting world. But our mission isn’t to save the world. Our mission is to be authentic light-bearers in our own circumstances. Who around you, needs you to be slow, to be gentle, to be a light in their world?

I invite you sit quietly in the presence of Love. When you are ready, stand up and stand in the presence of Love. Just stand for a few breaths. When you are ready step out into the world, knowing you carry the Light of Christ with you. He is here!

Of course, you’ll go back to extinguish those candles!!

Celebrate! God is with us! Love wins!

Spring will return!

Love and prayers

Anne

Mystic in Motion, “Companion on the Way” with Contemplative Fire

Contemplative Fire Canada (Founder)

 

Lessons from Children

First it was my grand puppy and then the grandchildren. I have found animals and children to be some of my best spiritual teachers. Have you? What lessons have you learnt?

Last week as the grandchildren visited us, I was so aware of their relationship with their father. He is a quiet, thoughtful and attentive man, a primary school teacher by training and a caring father. The children are very secure with him. They can ask him anything and they listen to him, at least most of the time! They know they are loved by him and safe in the world. They are visiting us in a new home, a new location and are content, curious about what is around them, but content.

The same week they were visiting, in my meditation time I was invited to ponder both the phrase and the reality that I am a child of God. Repeatedly I held that phrase, that reality within my mind and my heart. I’m very grateful that I know I’m loved by God. I know that deep down within my soul. It was what makes everything all right for me. Because I feel secure in God’s love, I can move across the country and open myself to a new life. Because I feel secure in God’s love, I was able to say, ‘I think I have a calling to priesthood’, despite the world around me not affirming women in leadership. Because I feel secure in God’s love, I was able to work in environments that weren’t supportive to my perspective. Because I feel secure in God’s love, I can move towards forgiveness when I’m ignored, snubbed or ridiculed.

But it wasn’t always that way. I didn’t grow up in a home where I felt safe and content. I grew up frightened and hiding. I didn’t have a relationship with my father or mother where I could ask questions, where I could explore new ways. My childhood experience was radically different than my grandchildren’s. I’m so grateful that theirs is different!

I know that I’m not alone in my experience. Many of us grow up troubled and then we’re told ‘we’re children of God’. That’s not such a good thing when our childhood memory is troublesome. I’m grateful that I was able to make that transition from a frightened little girl to a mature and secure woman, one who knows she is a Child of God, who knows that her father is generous, compassionate and kind. Being with my grandchildren helped me deepen my child-like trust of God. They really are ‘grand’!

We are Children of God. Everyone of us. Everyone of us. And our Father is good, all the time.

 

Love and prayers

Anne

Mystic in Motion

Contemplative Fire Canada (Founder)

View from the Edge

In a conversation with a soul sister today I found myself describing how I see the church, the world and place of the church within the world. It came out so clearly. Can I capture it again?

I live on the edge of my country which gives me a sense of freedom as I look around. I perceive the institutional church disappearing into irrelevancy. People don’t attend any more. They’ve dismissed it. The church has lost her spiritual authority. It seems to me that the church has lost spiritual authority because she no longer listens intently to the Spirit of God nor lives within the flowing energy of the Spirit.

Today we don’t just live in villages, cities or even countries but are called to live within a global community, an earth community. Yes, we do have the intimate relationships of family and community, but in this new age of human history, we’re aware of the global community and how our actions affect one another as well as our planet.

Any denominational church needs to have that awareness too. The Spirit of God is moving globally. Spiritually we need to be aware of all the spiritual pathways that are within the global community. We need to not only be aware of them, but awake and responsive to them. Within the main spiritual communities there is a meeting place in the mystical world. We all arrive at some point of recognizing the presence of God around and within us. We need to be open to each other and to the wisdom inherent in different pathways.

From my perspective, for too many years the Christian church has separated herself and become closed. She has ceased to reflect the life, energy and power of Jesus. Through history and theology, we have built walls between us and other faiths. It is time to step out from behind those walls and be open. We need to stand together, within the Light of God. God is so much bigger than any one human-constructed faith that has evolved from a divine teacher. I have found my study of other traditions has made Jesus bigger and more alive for me. He is not diminished but expanded and strengthened. We need to listen to what the Spirit of God is saying today.

For our human species to move to the next level of consciousness we need a spiritual rebirth that will bring healing to those who hurt, a deep peace to the planet and healing to our earth. We need to move beyond small worlds into the global, even cosmic world. We need to move beyond a small church into the wide, expanse of spiritual life, the big ‘C’ Church of All Followers Everywhere. That’s when spiritual authority will return to the newly created Spiritual Community.

The people on this planet need a strong, healthy, united spiritual voice. Will we listen? Will we respond?

We’re all in this together. It’s time we lived into that reality.

I think that is the essence of my response to my soul sister. I share it with you as a way of mulling it over myself. How does it strike you? Helpful? Heretical!?

Love and prayers
Anne
Mystic in Motion
Founder, Contemplative Fire Canada
If this is helpful or interesting to you, please pass it along.

 

Why this World is the Way it is….

This week I heard it one more time and something inside me said ‘STOP’! “Silence makes me depressed”. “Silence and solitude….” and then she shuddered. I’ve heard it so many times. People pull away from contemplative practices. Why? Why do they sign up for yoga retreats but not for Contemplative Fire or for contemplative retreats within a Christian tradition? Why will they learn a new language of Sanskrit, chant in words they don’t know but not join a reflective service? Why?

When I was in a contemplative group the other day and a member said how her husband found silence depressing, I found myself stirred inside, some frustration stirred, some deeper anger, some hurt and some sadness. I observed a messy little stew pot of emotions emerge within me! I have found my twenty-five plus years within the contemplative world to be deeply healing. I’ve learnt how to face my negative emotions and move beyond them. Fundamentally I’ve experienced the LOVE of God, the deep, deep love of God that holds and sustains my life. Has it all been easy? No, much of it has been hard work, but it’s been wonderful. It is now my life passion to help other people find their own healing path. I offer the contemplative path and I grieve when it is dismissed as depressive. The door is slammed shut. ‘No thanks. Don’t want any.’ Slam.

As I pondered that perspective and my own response to it, I heard Silence/Solitude/Contemplative Practices being blamed for the person’s depression. I realized it that was a common response I’ve heard over the years. “It’s too difficult. It’s too scary. I don’t know what will come to my mind if I’m still. It makes me nervous.” I’ve heard so many responses like that, but suddenly, this morning I realized that those people are blaming the contemplative practices for their emotional response. It’s like me blaming my husband for my anger. I’m responsible for my angry response not him. if he behaves in a way that provokes my anger, well it’s my feelings and I’m responsible for learning from my reaction and caring for myself.

How come people can blame the contemplative practices for their feelings and get away with it? The practices of silence or solitude or meditation or imaginary prayer or (insert any contemplative practice)… are not the problem. The inability to accept responsibility for our own feelings and reactions is the problem. Too much of our church life is directed by people who aren’t willing to own their own feelings and do their work, do The Work of maturing spiritually, of following Jesus. Too much of our world is also led by people who won’t do their work.

I see the problem more clearly today, but I don’t see the solution. Right now, I hold it in the presence of our Loving, Omnipresent God.  I want to be able to put my foot in the door and not let them slam it shut.

How do you respond?

Love and prayers

Anne

Mystic in Motion

Founder, Contemplative Fire Canada

If this is helpful or interesting to you, please pass it along.

 

Public and Personal

 

Today I feel caught between public and personal happenings. I live in Toronto where ten people were killed and fifteen injured yesterday in what appears to be a random crazy attack. Will we ever know what motivated Alek to take so many lives of people who were strangers to him? The inner pain of the man, the anguish, delusion, distortion, separation….

Each one of us, as human beings, experience inner pain. An existential loneliness is a well-documented shared human inheritance. Most of us find ways of living with it. We learn to make friends, hold jobs, whether satisfying or not, that connect us to the bigger whole. We shop, eat, exercise, drink, work, play video games, decorate our homes, travel, study, help others… the list goes on and on of ways that we find to either cover up that existential loneliness, or ease its pain. And within our coping ways, we can even find joy, laughter and purpose.

Somewhere I read….and I’m sorry I can’t source this non-original thought… that this planet and our human lives on it, are a school of suffering. To be a human being is a challenging lifetime for we are here to learn how to suffer with graciousness and compassion. We are to allow our souls to be shaped by suffering. That doesn’t mean we’re doormats, but, the opposite, for we are to be actively and wisely open to suffering while we keep grounded in the deep, deep love of God. We are to touch God’s compassion through our suffering.

On a personal level, we’re selling our home and perhaps hearing offers today. As part of my work around that life transition, I’ve been re-reading Joyce Rupp’s book ‘Praying Our Good-byes’. This morning she took me to Jesus’ life, into his family life, his ministry years, his friendships, his suffering, and the long list of his good-byes before his death. I enjoyed reading of his connection with people and valued being shown, long before his death, his pain and suffering as he experienced human life.

As a human being, he suffered. I suffer. There are things I don’t understand.  Looking at Jesus’ death, I see God entangled in our suffering. So then,  how will I respond?

I spoke with one care-giver who was involved in the aftermath of the attack yesterday. His response was one we often hear. He spoke of the resilience of human beings, the goodness that pours out of people as they try to help victims, the shared sorrow of those nearby. In a moment when we see the worst, the greatest pain of being human, we also see the best, the greatest beauty of being human.

May our personal lives be grounded in the deep, deep love that God has for each one of us. May we respond to suffering, both personal and public, carefully, gently with wisdom, with openness, with compassion. One step at a time. Life is a marathon and we’re not done yet.

If this is interesting to you, please show support by sharing it with a friend. Let’s broaden the contemplative pathway.

Love and prayers

Anne+

Mystic in Motion

Contemplative Fire, Community Leader Canada